Close-up sideview of the calyx (with dorsal appendage) and corolla of narrowleaf skullcap as seen along Forest Service Road #1647 in southeastern Logan Valley, Malheur National Forest.........July 3, 2010.
Skullcaps get their name from a small appendage or flap atop the calyx. Narrow-leaf skullcap is an attractive perennial arising to heights of 10-30 cm from rhizomes. The slender, erect stems may be branched or arise in clusters from the rhizome. The stems are square in cross-section. The herbage is variably haired, ranging from glabrous to short, upward-pointing hairs, or occasionally longer, spreading or even gland-tipped hairs. The leaves are opposite with entire margins. All the leaves are found on the stems. The venation consists of 3-5 nerves or veins arising from the leaf base. Leaf shape is elliptic to ovate, and the leaves range from 1.5- 2.5 cm long and 3-10 mm wide.
The flowers are solitary, arising from the axils of the upper, reduced leaves. The pedicels are 4-6 mm long. The corolla is a deep blue-violet. The tubular corolla is often curved slightly and ranges from 24-28 mm long and is narrow below and widening rapidly at the distal half of its tube. The lower lip of the corolla is large, and reflexed downward.. The palate has long white hairs and the throat of the corolla is open in fresh flowers.
Similar Species: Snapdragon skullcap: Scutellaria antirrhinoides
Ssp. angustifolia -
Ssp. micrantha -
Narrow-leaf skullcap may be found on rocky, graveled or talus slopes with dry exposures.
Narrow-leaf skullcap may be found east of the Cascades from southern British Columbia south through Washington and Oregon to California. It may be found eastward to western and northern Idaho. It is found in the middle and eastern Columbia River Gorge and may occasionally be found in the Willamette Valley.
Narrow-leaf skullcap may be planted in the home rock garden, but it should be give room, or enclosed within grass edging plastic as the rhizomes have a tendency to travel, usually where a much preferred plant, like a Lewisia is growing. With time, it may overgrow or crowd out other plants, so it should be kept in check. I pull the rhizomes and stems and replant them in desired areas. The rhizomes re-root readily. The flowers and stems have a noticeable, sharp, minty scent.